NOVA

Rise of the Rockets

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Rise of the Rockets

We may be witnessing the dawn of a bold new era of human activity in space-for science and exploration-but also for profit. An explosion of private companies are developing new technologies and lowering costs to bring space closer than ever. And at the same time, NASA is returning to manned spaceflight with gusto-once again building a rocket to take us far beyond Earth-a rocket more powerful even than the storied Saturn V. But this is not the first time we've seen signs of a rocketry renaissance. In the 1980s, there was a boom-and bust-in the privatization of space travel. Will today's optimism over companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic prove prescient or will we once again falter and lose our nerve? One thing is certain: as costs come down and new rockets with new capabilities come online a new generation is reaching for the cosmos; once more daring to dream big, yearning to go further, and in greater numbers than ever before.

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